The Nigerian Army has urged the people of Bayelsa State to shun violence and see the coming election in the state as a sport where one team must emerge winner.
Speaking in Nembe, Bayelsa, during a novelty football match between 16 Brigade of the Nigerian Army and Nembe Football team at the 20,000 Nembe City Stadium, Brig.-Gen Valentine Okoro, commander of the Brigade said that like good sportsmen, politics must be played without bitterness.
He added that with adequate attention paid to sports, many of the vices in the society could be minimised, stressing that it should be used as a tool for the prevention of crime and enhancement of integration among the people.
The march was organised as part of activities of Operation Crocodile Smile 4 in the Niger Delta, which kicked off on November 8.
During the event which was attended by the leadership of the military in the state, a former military administrator of Ebonyi and Delta States, Navy Commander Walter Feghabo (rtd) and traditional chiefs, Brig.-Gen Okoro also urged Bayelsans to embrace peace during the November 16 governorship poll.
"We expect that in the coming election, the people should also imbibe the same spirit of sportsmanship. In every contest, there is a winner and a loser, so, no one should feel bitter about it," he said.
While calling for cooperation during the military exercise, Okoro stressed that operation crocodile smile 4 was designed to rid the state of traces of all criminality.
"The essence of operation crocodile smile 4 is to curb violence and promote peace and security in the community.
"Security is everybody's business, so the entire Nembe community are also some of the stakeholders we work with" he added.
In his comments, a Nembe Chief, Ebinyo Ikiba, praised the new-look army and said said that it was a welcome development for the army and the civil populace to have a cordial relationship.
"This is good military/civilian relations. Before now we couldn't go close to military personnel. It's a good thing.
" I advise the youths to be peaceful because no one can move around in any atmosphere of violence. The youths should also give the military intelligence report" he said.
Feghabo, a former military administrator, who also spoke in the same vein, praised the initiative and urged the army to continue to encourage a smooth relationship with civilians.
The match ended in a 1-0 win over 16 brigade with a lone goal scored by Serge Ngobere in the early minutes of the second half.